Japan’s Political Scene Heats Up This Fall

September 23, 2008 at 9:41 am

Talk about a dramatic and intense week in politics. We’ve got liberals versus conservatives, old establishment versus new, “change” versus “more of the same”, popularity versus substance, economic woes, party unity…

I’m talking about Japanese Prime Minister’s Yasuo Fukuda’s resignation, and the rush to find a successor, of course.

Who’d you think I was referring to? 😉

Some of the same political issues facing Americans this fall — taxes, national debt, spending reform, national security — are playing out in Japan. It’s sort of comforting to know we’re not alone in dealing with these topics.
Japan’s LDP (Liberal Democratic Party), which has held majority rule for most of the past 50 years, has had difficulty keeping its Prime Ministers in place. Fukuda follows in Shinzo Abe’s footsteps by resigning after about a year.

What’s the deal? Why can’t Japan find another Junichiro Koizumi (who served as Prime Minister from 2001 to 2006) to lead? Well, it’s not for lack of trying.

Enter perpetual contender Taro Aso. The 67-year-old, manga-loving Secretary-General and former Minister for Foreign Affairs will likely replace Fukuda. (Then again, that’s what people said about Aso last year, after Abe’s resignation.) According to the Christian Science Monitor, charismatic Aso is “known for his controversial comments” but is also “well-liked among Japanese youths.” Sounds like a McCain/Obama hybrid. Egads!

Also running for the slot is Yuriko Koike, who has served both as a Defense Minister and Environment Minister. Somehow I doubt you will ever see that combination on an American politician’s resume. She’s also a former TV announcer. May the best man or woman win — and last longer than a year.

Sarah S.

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